Mental capacity

What is The Mental Capacity Act?

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) provides a framework to protect vulnerable people over the age of 16 who are not able to make their own decisions. It makes it clear who can make decisions for people who are unable to themselves and in what situations decisions can be made. It also allows people to plan ahead in case of a time where they may lose capacity.

The MCA says

  1. Every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to make them unless it is proved otherwise.
  2. A person must be given all practicable help before anyone treats them as not being able to make their own decisions.
  3. Just because an individual makes what might be seen as an unwise decision, they should not be treated as lacking capacity to make that decision.
  4. Anything done or any decision made on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done in their best interests.
  5. Anything done for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity should be the least restrictive of their basic rights and freedoms.

The MCA also allows people to express their preferences for care and treatment in case they lack capacity to make these decisions. It also allows them to appoint a trusted person to make a decision on their behalf should they lack capacity in the future.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and Deputies

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people to make certain decisions on your behalf, if you cannot make them for yourself.

A deputy is where someone applies to the Court of Protection to make decisions on your behalf. The court may then appoint this person to make certain decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. It will not happen if you have made a Lasting Power of Attorney.

There are 2 types of POA/deputy:

  • Health and welfare.
  • Property and financial affairs.

The Court of Protection oversees the operation of the Mental Capacity Act and deals with all issues, including financial and serious healthcare matters, concerning people who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions. 

For more information

How we can help you

Share any changes that may affect a persons capacity with your doctor, nurse or any health or social care professional. If you have Lasting Power of Attorney or have been appointed as a deputy, please inform the health and social care professionals involved with the individuals care and treatment as soon as possible.

Further information


Last updated: 21st October 2019